Thursday, September 27, 2007


Note to myself. Before allowing your (almost) 6 year old into the shower, remove the razor from the local vicinity.

The picture doesn't serve proper justice, but his left brow is all but gone.
And to think - I was right there in the bathroom when he did this! At least he didn't cut himself.

Gosh, I'm getting good at finding the silver lining in all things 'boy.'


Monday, September 24, 2007

Monday Menu

Breakfast: granola*, yogurt
Lunch:tomato soup, crackers, fruit
Dinner: bbq beef barbecue sandwiches*, potato salad, tomato/cucumber slices
Treat: popsicles

Beef Barbecue Sandwiches
From: Kim
Serves 10-12
1 3-lb bone-in chuck roast, well trimmed
1 large onion, chopped
2 celery ribs, coarsely chopped
1 bay leaf
5 whole peppercorns
2-1/2 c beef stock

¾ c ketchup
¼ c brown sugar
2 T apple cider vinegar
1 T Worches. Sauce
2-1/2 t prepared mustard
1 t chili powder
½ t paprika
¼ t hot sauce
In slow cooker, combine the meat, veggies, seasonings, and stock. Cover and cook on low for 10 hours, or until the meat is very tender. Remove the meat with a slotted spoon and metal spatula to a platter; pour the liquid into a degreasing pitcher and skim the fat.

Prepare the sauce: Combine all of all the ingredients plus 1-1/2 c of the beef liquid. Shred the meat with 2 forks, leaving it in large pieces, then add to the sauce. Reheat the mixture on high in the slow cooker or on top of the stove for about 20 minutes. Serve meat/sauce on buns.

From: Kim

6 cups old-fashioned oat (not instant or quick cooking)
¾ c coarsely chopped walnuts
¾ c whole almonds
¼ c brown sugar
1 c sesame seeds
1 c sunflower seeds
½ c veg oil
1/3 c honey
1/3 c raisins
1/3 c dried apricots or apples
Preheat oven to 350.

In large bowl, combine the oats, walnuts, almonds, brown sugar, sesame seeds, and sunflower seeds. In a small bowl, whisk together the oil and honey. Drizzle the honey mixture over oats/nuts and combine well.

Transfer to 2 jelly roll pans coated with nonstick spray, and spread out evenly. Bake the granola for 10 minutes, stir, and bake 10 more minutes. Remove from the oven, add fruit, and stir again. Cool completely, break up larger pieces, if necessary, and store in airtight containers.

Note: nuts turn rancid if stored at room temp after a bit of time – freeze extra granola if it is not eaten within a week


Breakfast: scrambled eggs, toast

Lunch: yogurt, fruit, granola

Dinner: garlic chicken lasagna*, salad

Treat: chocolate sugar cookies*

Garlic Chicken Lasagna

from: Kim

5 TBS butter

1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite sized pieces

1 medium onion, chopped

2-1/2 tsp. minced garlic

1 can (29 oz) crushed tomatoes

1 can (15 oz) tomato sauce

1 can (6 oz) tomato paste

1 tsp. dried Italian seasoning

1 tsp. fresh oregano

1 tsp. fresh basil

½ tsp garlic powder

¼ tsp pepper

lasagna noodles (about 12)

4 cups Mozzarella cheese, shredded

2 cups Monterey cheese, shredded

1/3 cup Parmesan cheese, grated

In large pan, sauté chicken, onion and garlic in butter until chicken is cooked through. Stir in next 8 ingredients. Bring to a low boil; reduce heat to low and simmer for 45 minutes.

Boil lasagna noodles al dente. Drain and run under cold water.

Spread about ½ c sauce in 9x13 pan. Top with lasagna noodles, 1/3 of the sauce, and 1/3 of the cheeses. Repeat layers, ending with Parm. Cheese.

Cover pan with foil. Bake at 350 for 60 minutes. Let lasagna stand for 15-20 minutes before cutting. Serves 6-8

Chocolate Sugar Cookies

From: Martha Stewart

1-1/2 c flour

½ c unsweetened high quality cocoa powder

1 t baking powder

½ t salt

½ c unsalted butter, softened

1-1/2 c sugar

½ c veg shortening (or ½ c unsalted butter), melted and cooled*

1 large egg

1-1/2 t vanilla

*The shortening will yield flaky cookies with a soft center and crispy edge. The butter will result in a thinner, crunchy cookie

Preheat oven to 375. Whisk together flour, cocoa, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl; set aside.

Put butter and sugar into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle. Mix on medium high speed until pale and fluffy. Mix in shortening (or butter). Add egg and vanilla; mix until creamy. Reduce speed to low. Gradually add flour mixture and mix until just combined.

Using a TBS, drop dough onto greased cookie sheet; spacing about 4 inches apart.

Bake until edges are firm, about 18-20 minutes. Cool on wire rack. Cookies can be stored in an air-tight container for 2-3 days.


Breakfast: cereal

Lunch: turkey sandwiches, fruit, pretzels

Dinner: apple topped chops*, mashed potatoes, green beans
Treat: sherbet

Apple Topped Chops
From: Kim

8 pork chops (3/4 inch thick)

1-1/2 T olive oil

1 medium onion, thinly sliced into rings

¾ c raisins, divided

4 medium apples, cut into ½ in slices (Granny Smith works best here)

1 c apple juice

3/4 T brown sugar

1 t salt

½ t dried basil, crushed

¼ t ground nutmeg

1/8 t ground cloves

In large skillet, brown pork chops in oil over medium heat. Place in an un-greased baking dish. Place onion rings over the chops. Sprinkle with ½ the raisins. Arrange the apple slices on top and sprinkle with remaining raisins. Combine the apple juice, sugar, salt, basil, nutmeg and cloves; pour over all. Cover and bake at 350 for 1 hour. Uncover and bake 20-30 minutes longer or until meat is tender.

Breakfast: cream of wheat
Lunch: leftovers from Tues/Wednesday
Dinner: Italian harvest soup*, garlic bread
Treat: cookies

Italian Harvest Soup

From: Connie (Grace Christian)

Serves 4-6

4 slices of bacon, chopped

3 T olive oil

1 lg onion, diced

2 garlic clove, minced

4 cans chicken broth, low sodium

1 carrot, peeled and sliced thin

2 stalks celery, chopped

1 cans diced tomatoes, with juice

½ box frozen chopped spinach, thawed

1 sm zucchini, diced

3 T chopped fresh basil

3 T chopped fresh parsley

1 t dried oregano

1 can white beans (cannelloni is best), drained and rinsed

2 c chicken breast, cooked and diced

1 c small pasta (elbow or shells), cooked and drained

salt and pepper to taste

parmesan cheese

In large pan over medium heat, cook bacon until crispy. Remove from pan with slotted spoon and drain on paper towels. Remove excess bacon drippings from pan. Cook onion and garlic in olive oil, stirring often, until tender. Add broth, carrots, celery and tomatoes. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer 30 minutes. Add spinach, zucchini, basil, parsley, oregano and beans. Simmer for 30 minutes. Add chicken and pasta and season to taste with salt and pepper. Simmer for 5 minutes or until chicken is heated through. Sprinkle with bacon and cheese.

Breakfast: cereal
Lunch: soup from last night
Dinner: date night -- kids, pizza
Treat: ice cream floats

Breakfast: pancakes, turkey bacon
Lunch: quesadillas
Dinner: pan fry bbq chicken*, sweet potato fries, broccoli
Treat: strawberry pretzel dessert

Fry Pan BBQ Chicken

From: Kim

1/3 cup olive oil

6-8 pieces of chicken (breasts and legs work best)

1 c flour

1 tsp salt

¾ tsp chili powder

¼ tsp pepper

1 c ketchup

½ c brown sugar

1 small onion, diced

2 TBS Worchestershire sauce

¼ c vinegar (cider or white)

2 TBS prepared mustard

¼ c water

Preheat skillet and add oil. In large plastic bag, combine flour, salt, chili powder and pepper. Add chicken and shake well. Place in skillet. Fry until golden brown. In separate pan, heat ketchup, sugar, onion, worch sauce, mustard, vinegar and water to boiling; simmer. Pour sauce over chicken and simmer for 45 minutes.

*You can bake this chicken as well. When chicken is half done on the stovetop, place in baking dish and cover with sauce. Bake at 350 until chicken is cooked through (time will vary depending on cuts of meat).

This sauce is wonderful with biscuits or fried potatoes.

Strawberry Pretzel Dessert

From: Taste of Home

*plan ahead – chill time and jello prep

2 c crushed pretzels

¾ c butter

3 T sugar


2 c whipped topping

1 package cream cheese, softened

1 c sugar


1 package (6 oz) strawberry gelatin

2 c boiling water

2 packages (16 oz each) frozen sliced strawberries with syrup, thawed

additional whipped topping

In a bowl, combine pretzels, butter and sugar. Press into the bottom of an un-greased 13x9 baking pan. Bake at 350 for 10 minutes. Cool.

In a mixing bowl, beat whipped topping, cream cheese and sugar until smooth. Spread over pretzel crust. Chill. For topping, dissolve gelatin in boiling water in large bowl. Stir in berries with syrup; chill until partially set; carefully spoon over filling. Chill for 6 hours or until firm. Cut into squares; serve with a dollop of whipped topping if desired.

Breakfast: cereal, toast
Lunch: chicken salad sandwiches, fruit
Dinner: crockpot beef burgundy*, rice, peas/carrots
Treat: almond joy cookies*

Crockpot Beef Burgundy

From: Kim

In large skillet, cook 4 slices of bacon; chop.

Coat with flour and brown on all sides in olive oil:

2 lbs. sirloin tip or round steak cut in 1-inch cubes

Combine all the above in a crockpot with:

1 tsp salt

¼ tsp marjoram

¼ t thyme

½ t pepper

1 clove garlic, minced

1 beef bouillon cube, crushed

1 c red wine

Cover and cook on low for 6-8 hours

Combine 2 TSP cornstarch with 2 TSP cold water. Mix well.

Turn crockpot on high and add above mixture – cooking for 15 minutes.

*During last 15 minutes of cooking, I sometimes add ¼ lb of fresh mushrooms

This is wonderful with garlic mashed potatoes or fresh sourdough bread

Almond Joy Cookies

From: Minnesota church cookbook, author unknown

Makes 40 small cookies

1 14 oz can sweetened condensed milk

1 oz unsweetened chocolate

¼ t salt

1 t vanilla

3 c shredded coconut

45 whole salted almonds

Preheat oven to 350

In the top of a double boiler, combine the condensed milk, chocolate, and salt. Cook over rapidly boiling water; stirring often for 5-7 minutes, or until the mixture thickens. Remove from the heat and stir in the vanilla and coconut.

Form cookies by dropping teaspoons of the mixture on a well greased baking sheet, 1 inch apart. Top each with a whole almond. Bake on the middle shelf of the oven for 10-12 minutes, watching the cookies carefully after 9 minutes, as the bottom can get too brown. Immediately remove cookies from the pan with a metal spatula and cool on wax paper covered rack.

Note: these freeze very well

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Sunday, September 23, 2007

1st gymnastic competition

Miss S had her first gymnastic competition of the season yesterday. She did quite well and we are very proud of her hard work and enthusiasm. Because of certain rules, I am not able to shoot photos during her routines. However, one of the assistant coaches had permission to capture action shots; she is going to send some pics of Sarah this week.

Vault: 9.2
Floor: 9.8 (this was with her brand new floor routine..she was amazing)
Beam: 8.9
Bars: 7.1 (she had a nasty slip off the high bar and had to re-start)

She took 1st place for her level on floor
She took 2nd place for her level on vault and beam
She did not place for bars, but she had incredible determination and her perseverance made me so proud.

For all around, she placed 2nd. Excellent first meet! Good job, baby!

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Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Time for birthday cake!

Happy Birthday, Miss Gracie!
We love you.

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Monday, September 17, 2007

Menu Monday

I have become a slacker when it comes to my menu planning. It seems to happen during the summer months. Now that fall is upon us (yay!) I am going to get back on track. I thought it might be nice to post my menu plan each Monday, along with some of the recipes. Ideally, I plan for 2 weeks, but this entry is long enough for one week, so we'll start there. :-)

I love to cook and share recipes, so this should be just the ticket to get me back on the menu planning wagon. Also, because the children are home for all of their meals, I find it easier if I plan breakfast/lunch as well, especially when it comes time for grocery shopping.

Dishes with an * will have a recipe at the end

Breakfast: yogurt, fruit, toast
Lunch: quesadillas, veggie sticks
Dinner: honey glazed chicken*, sunshine carrots*, salad, rolls
Dessert: shebert

Breakfast: cereal, juice
Lunch: turkey sandwiches, peaches, pretzels
Dinner: quick minestrone*, rolls, salad
Dessert: popsicles

Breakfast: sunshine muffins*, fruit
Lunch: leftover soup from last night
Dinner: sloppy joes*, oven roasted potatoes, green beans (Gracie's BD choice)
Dessert: birthday cake (chocolate with buttercream frosting)
Cookies for the week: oatmeal raisin cookies*

Breakfast: cereal, juice
Lunch: cheese, crackers, fruit, veggie sticks
Dinner: chicken tacos, rice, black beans
Dessert: honey peach freeze*

Breakfast: scrambled eggs, toast
Lunch: PB&J, mandarin oranges, tortilla chips
Dinner: lazy day stew*, salad (this meal may change)
Dessert: cookies

Breakfast: pancakes, turkey bacon
Lunch: leftovers from Thursday and Friday
Dinner: turkey meatloaf*, baked sweet potatoes, broccoli
Dessert: nothing planned

Breakfast: baked oatmeal*(crockpot)
Lunch: Subway after church
Dinner: chicken and autumn veggies*, crockpot
Dessert: banana cake*

Honey Glazed Chicken

From: Kim

1/2 cup flour

1 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

3 pounds of chicken(your favorite cuts)

1/2 cup of butter, melted, divided

1/4 cup packed brown sugar

1/4 cup honey

1/4 cup lemon juice(fresh)

1 tablespoon soy sauce

1 teaspoon curry powder

In a bowl or bag, combine flour, salt and cayenne pepper; add chicken pieces and dredge or shake to coat. Pour 4 tablespoons butter into a 13x9 inch baking pan; place chicken in pan, turning pieces once to coat. Bake, uncovered at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. Combine brown sugar, honey, lemon juice, soy sauce, curry powder and remaining butter; pour over chicken. Bake 35- 40 minutes more or until chicken is thoroughly cooked. Baste several times with pan drippings.

note: double – sauce is great for dipping chicken strips


Sunny Carrots

From: Kim

1 lb carrots, julienned

¾ T brown sugar

1 t cornstarch

¼ c orange juice

2 T butter

Steam carrots until just fork tender (do not over-cook)

Meanwhile, in another pan, combine brown sugar and cornstarch. Stir in orange juice until smooth. Bring to a boil; cook and stir for 2 minutes or until thickened and bubbly. Stir in butter. Drain carrots; top with orange juice mixture and toss to coat.

Quick Minestrone

From: Kim

2 (28 oz) cans diced tomatoes, undrained

1 TBS minced garlic

2 (32 oz) cans low-sodium vegetarian broth

2 (15 oz) cans cannellini beans

1 (15 oz) can kidney beans

1 (16 oz) package of frozen green beans

1 tsp kosher salt

¾ tsp black pepper

2 (10 oz) boxes frozen spinach, thawed and drained

1 c grated Parmesan cheese

favorite rolls or bread

In large pot, over medium heat, bring the tomatoes and their liquid to a simmer; add garlic. Cook for 2 minutes. Add the broth, white beans, and kidney beans and bring to a simmer. Add the green beans and cook until tender, about 4 minutes. Add the salt, pepper, and spinach and stir until heated through. Ladle into bowls and sprinkle with cheese. Serve with favorite rolls.

notes: double for lunches - freezes well

Sunshine Muffins

From: Kim

Makes 15-18 muffins

1-1/2 c flour

1 c whole wheat flour

¼ c flax seed

1-2/3 c sugar

2 t baking powder

½ t salt

¾ c butter

3 eggs, beaten

2/3 c fresh orange juice

1-1/2 t vanilla

½ t orange extract

1 T orange marmalade

½ c chopped pecans (optional)

Preheat oven to 350

In large bowl, combine flours, flax, sugar, baking powder and salt. Add remaining ingredients; stir just until combined (do not over-mix). Fill muffin tins 2/3 full. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until top of muffin springs back with touched in the center.


Sloppy Joes

From: Kim

Serves about 12

2 pounds ground meat (I use turkey)

½ c. diced onion

½ c. diced green pepper

½ c diced red pepper

1 can condensed tomato soup, undiluted (may substitute 1 can of tomato paste)

1 can (8 oz) tomato sauce

¼ c. brown sugar

2 TBS Worcestershire sauce

½ TBS. prepared mustard

1-1/2 tsp. dry mustard

½ tsp. chili powder

½ tsp. garlic salt

hamburger buns

Brown meat and onion over medium heat; add green pepper. Cook and stir for 5 minutes; drain. Add the remaining ingredients; bring to a consistent simmer; stir often.

Cover and place at a low simmer for 1 hour. Serve on buns.

*If mixture is thicker than you prefer, add a small amount of chicken broth or water to thin.


Oatmeal Raisin Cookies
from: Kim

1 c butter, softened (No subs)
1 c brown sugar
1/2 c sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1-1/2 c flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp salt
3 c old fashioned oats (not quick cooking)
1 c raisins (or craisins)

Heat to 350
Beat together butter and sugars until creamy. Add eggs and vanilla; beat well. Add combined flour, soda, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt; mix well. Stir in oats and raisins, mix thoroughly. Drop by rounded tsp onto ungreased cookie sheet.
Bake 10-12 minutes


Honey Peach Freeze

From: Taste of Home, Best of

1 package (20 oz) frozen sliced peaches, partially thawed

¼ c honey

2 T orange juice

1 T lemon juice

Set aside a few peach slices for garnish if desired. Place remaining peaches in a blender; add honey and juices. Cover and process until smooth. Pour into 4 freezer-proof dishes. Freeze for at least 2 hours; remove 5 minutes before serving.

notes: double


Lazy Day Stew
from: Kim

2 lbs. round steak, cubed
4 potatoes, chopped into bite sized pieces
6 carrots, chopped into bite sized pieces
3 onions, chopped
4 stalks of celery, chopped into bite sized pieces
15 oz tomato sauce
1 cup water
2 tsp sugar
salt, pepper and garlic to taste
4 tsp quick-cooking tapioca mix, uncooked (usually found on the top shelf of the pudding area at the market -- look for a red box)
1 package of frozen peas

Arrange steak in a 3 qt casserole dish or Dutch oven. Layer veggies on top of the steak. In medium bowl, mix tomato sauce, water and sugar. Pour over meat and veggies. Add spices. Scatter tapioca on top; do not stir in. Place a piece of foil over the top and cover with a tight fitting lid. Bake at 325 for 2-3 hours. Do not open during the cooking time. (place a cookie sheet on the rack under the pot to catch possible spills).
After cooking, take stew out and gently stir in peas. Place foil and lid back on, allowing stew to sit on stove top for about 5 minutes - enough time for the peas to get hot.


Turkey Meatloaf

From: Kim

2 pounds ground turkey

2 egg yolks

5 TBS chopped parsley, fresh

1-1/2 TBS butter, softened

1 medium onion, chopped

2 tsp lemon juice

1-1/2 tsp salt

2 tsp pepper

1-2 cups vegetarian broth (or chicken broth)

Preheat oven to 350.

In large bowl, combine all ingredients except the broth. Form into a loaf and place in lighted greased pan. Pour the broth (use desired amount; between 1-2 cups) and bake for 60-70 minutes (check with meat therm for proper temp), basting periodically. Allow to sit for 10 minutes before cutting.


Baked Oatmeal

From: Kim, adapted from Dorette

Plan ahead – start the night before

1/3 c butter

2 eggs

½ c brown sugar

1-1/2 tsp baking powder

1-1/2 tsp vanilla

1 t grated nutmeg

½ t cinnamon

¼ t salt

1 c plus 2 T milk

3 cups oats (not instant)

warm milk for serving

Melt butter and set aside. Grease 1-1/2 qt casserole, and drop in the eggs. Beat slightly. Add the brown sugar, baking powder, vanilla, nutmeg, cinnamon and salt. Mix well, making sure there are no brown sugar lumps. Whisk in the melted butter and milk, the stir in the oats. Cover and refrigerate overnight.

Preheat oven to 350. Uncover the oatmeal and bake for 35 minutes or until top is brown. Remove from oven and place in serving bowls. Pour warm milk over servings.

Serves 6

*note – double recipe – sits well in fridge for a couple days

*note - Place some chopped apple in the individual serving bowls before adding oatmeal


Crock Chicken and Autumn Veggies

From: Saving Dinner

1 T olive oil

6 skinless chicken thighs

salt and pepper to taste

1 large onion, diced

2 turnips, cut in ½ inch slices

2 carrots, cut in ½ inch slices

1 t tarragon

1 can chicken broth, low sodium

½ c white wine, optional

2 T butter

2 T flour

1 c half and half

In a large skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat. Cook chicken until browned, about 3 minutes. Remove from skillet; salt and pepper to your taste.

Reduce the heat and add the onion to the skillet and cook for two minutes. Add remaining veggies and tarragon, tossing well to mix, but don’t cook. Place veggies in the crockpot, then layer chicken on top. Pour in the chicken broth and wine. Cook on low for 6 hours. When chicken is cooked, remove chicken and veggies; keep warm.

In a saucepan, melt butter over low heat. Add flour and whisk together till well blended (no lumps). Cook for a minute but don’t brown. Add cooking liquid and bring to a boil to simmer for a minute. Add half and half and bring up to a low simmer and cook until thickened, about 5 minutes. To serve, pour the sauce over veggies and chicken.

note: double


Fresh Banana Cake

From: Kim

¼ c butter, at room temp.

¾ c sugar

3 eggs, at room temp

1-1/2 t vanilla

3 very ripe bananas, mashed

1-1/2 c buttermilk, low fat, at room temp

2-1/4 c flour

2 t baking soda

1 t salt

powdered sugar

Preheat over to 350. Grease 12 c Bundt pan. In a large bowl, beat butter and sugar until light and fluffy; beat in eggs, one at a time. Stir in vanilla, bananas and the buttermilk until well combined. In a medium bowl, combine flour, soda, and salt; add to bananas. Stir in gentle to combine. Pour batter into prepared pan; bake for 40 minutes or until top springs back when lightly touched. Cool in pan on rack for 20 minutes before turning out onto rack. Cool completely. Sprinkle with powdered sugar.

Notes: this is great with chocolate pan frosting as well

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Thursday, September 13, 2007

Fall is in the air (and I love it!)

The past few days have had a wonderful crispness to them. The air conditioner is off and the windows are wide open. The down comforter is on the bed at night and sweaters are in back of the van, for 'just in case' moments. I love fall. It isn't long enough - at all!

While sitting here I realized that I have been blogging for 3 years, today! What a trip to read back over the past entries, recalling the blessings and trials. God has been so faithful.

I want to leave you with a comment my friend said this morning, while at gym class.
"Isn't it cool how all of the truly wonderful things in life are invisible; like faith and love?"
Amen, sister friend. Amen.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

In memory

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Vball Tournie

Em's team, along with 12 other homeschool teams, played in a huge tournament yesterday. It was a very long day. The JV took 3rd and Varsity took 2nd.

Good job, girls!

A quick shot of Em, guarding the net.